Sunday, July 23, 2006

Canoeist stabs bear to death in Ontario

Last Updated Sat, 22 Jul 2006 20:34:51 EDT
CBC News

A man stabbed a black bear to death with a 15-cm hunting knife, saying he knew he would otherwise become "lunch" after it attacked him and his dog on a canoeing portage in northern Ontario.

Tom Tilley and his dog, shown in an undated photo, escaped an attack by a black bear while portaging near Wawa, Ont. (Waterloo Region Record/Canadian Press)

Tom Tilley, a 55-year-old from Waterloo, Ont., said his American Staffordshire dog growled a warning, then rushed to his defence as the bear came at them on a trail north of Wawa on Friday.

As the dog battled with the nearly 90-kilogram bear, Tilley jumped on its back and stabbed it with his knife.
"Love is a very powerful emotion and my thought right away was: 'You're not going to kill my dog,'" Tilley told the Waterloo Region Record.

"I really consider my dog a hero. Without that first warning, I would have had the bear clamping down on my neck."

An avid outdoorsman, Tilley was four days into a 12-day canoe trip. He said he heard his dog growl and noticed the bear closing in on him. He waved his arms and slowly backed away. But the bear came closer, cutting off his escape route.

"That's when I knew I had a serious problem.… I was lunch," he said. "The bear took a few steps down the trail and clamped its mouth on the back of my dog. It gave me the quick opportunity I needed to run around to the back of the bear, get on its back and with my knife start stabbing it."

After making sure the animal was dead, Tilley realized that both he and dog had been bitten.

'That's when I knew I had a serious problem.… I was lunch.'-Tom Tilley, a 55-year-old from Waterloo, Ont.

He dragged his canoe across a short portage and paddled for about an hour before he came across a pair of Americans who had a satellite phone. They called for help and two hours later, a cargo plane arrived to take Tilley to Wawa for medical attention. He was released from hospital shortly after.

Bears rarely attack humans, but there have been several killings and serious maulings in Canada in recent years, including:

In late April, a grizzly attacked and killed Jean-Francois Pagé, a 28-year-old man from Whitehorse who was working in the bush about 30 kilometres east of the Yukon community.

Jacqueline Perry, 30, was killed by a black bear that attacked her and her husband at a campsite in Missinaibi Lake Provincial Park in northern Ontario in September 2005.

Isabelle Dube, a 26-year-old mother of one, died in June 2005 after being mauled by a grizzly bear while she and friends were running on a hiking trail near Canmore, Alta.


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